The first “space tourists” will blast off today as Blue Origin sends a manned flight into space.

New Shepard is scheduled to launch today (20 July 2021) at 08h00 CDT (15h00 in South Africa) from Launch Site One in West Texas. The live broadcast starts at 06h30 CDT (13h30 in South Africa).

The launch can be see live here:

Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark will be among the four passengers on board New Shepard. They will be joined by Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, representing the oldest and youngest people to travel to space.

Daemen is 18, while Funk is 82.

Daemen became the fourth passenger on board New Shepard because winner of Blue Origin’s auction for the last seat, who has asked to remain anonymous at this time, has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts.

Flying on New Shepard will fulfill a lifelong dream for Daemen, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four. He graduated from high school in 2020 and took a gap year before continuing his studies to obtain his private pilot’s license. This September, Daemen will attend the University of Utrecht to study physics and innovation management.

Funk’s journey to space began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program, a privately-funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness.

Later known as the “Mercury 13”, 13 American women successfully underwent the same physiological and psychological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury, but they never flew to space.Funk was the youngest graduate of this program.

She was the first female FAA inspector and first female NTSB air safety investigator.

Watch the replay of the pre-launch briefing and preparations for today’s launch:


Main picture: New Shepard NS-14 lifts off from Launch Site One in West Texas. (January 14, 2021)
Credit: Blue Origin